Giant cell arteritis, which has been closely observed in white individuals, occurs at similar rates in both white and black populations, according to research results published in JAMA Ophthalmology.

In a retrospective cohort study, investigators sought to evaluate the frequency of biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis using data from the medical records of patients who underwent temporal artery biopsy. Results of comparison of patient self-reported demographics of race, sex, and age and the estimated occurrence of biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis were the main outcomes.

Of the 586 patients who underwent temporal artery biopsy (average age, 70.5 years; 72.2% women), 167 were black, 382 were white, and 37 were other or unknown. Of the 573 participants aged ≥50 years, 92 had biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis; 14 were black and 75 were white.

Among patients included in the study population, crude annual incidence rates for biopsy-proven giant cell arteritis were 2.9 per 100,000 for black individuals and 4.2 per 100,000 for white individuals. These incidence rates for black and white individuals were 3.1 and 3.6 per 100,000, respectively, following population-adjusted age- and sex-standardized incidence rates. The ratio for women compared with men was 1.9; the ratio of white to black patients, which was 1.2, was not significant.

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“Whereas previous reports have suggested that [giant cell arteritis] is several times more common in white than black patients, in our study, a difference by race could not be identified,” the investigators concluded. “We therefore recommend that the same clinical thresholds for diagnosing and managing [giant cell arteritis] be applied to black and white patients.


Gruener AM, Poostchi A, Carey AR, et al. Association of giant cell arteritis with race [published August 8, 2019]. JAMA Ophthalmol. doi:10.1001/jamaophtholmol.2019.2919